Located between the two tourist hotspots of Florence and Venice, Bologna is often overlooked as a holiday destination, it hasn’t got the famous landmarks nor the Romantic allure of its two neighbours, but it is famous for one of our favourite pastimes, eating.
It’s know as the culinary capital of Italy, with this in mind we wanted to try as many dishes as we could in our short time there.
Taking in the sights.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and the university town was beginning to liven up for the weekend. After a short ride on our bikes in to the main centre , we found a traditional Trattoria. Our eagerness to get stuck into some traditional Bolognian cuisine was evident in our arrival to the restaurant when the doors opened at 6 PM, making us the first customers of the night. After a light starter of local hams and bread, we were ready for the main event. This trattoria served two of bolognas well known dishes, Tortellini en Brodo and Tagliatelle ragu which we have learnt is very different to its southern counterpart Bolognaise.
The Ragu and Tortellini in Brodo, which is handmade pasta in a chicken broth.
The flavour of both dishes was incredible, and far better than any Italian cuisine we’ve tried before. After the mains and as the restaurant started to fill we were tempted into going for a delicious tiramisu dessert.
After breakfast the following morning we saddled up and headed back into town in search of coffee, we ended up in a tiny cafe off the beaten tourist path, Cafe Aroma’s coffee is said to be some of the best in Italy, after two espressos we had to agree.
Bologna’s somewhat unfinished cathedral San Petronio.
As we had a few hours before lunch we thought we’d try and seek out a few of Bologna’s sights, most noticeable of these is the towers that are dotted around the city, the majority of which were built around the 13th century, the exact reasons for their construction is widely debated, one theory is that they were built by wealthy families as a display of wealth, therefore the taller the tower, the richer its owners.
One of the many towers that pepper the skyline.
Hidden in the corner of the city’s main square, opposite the somewhat unfinished cathedral, (the city ran out of money half way through its build) we found an intriguing set of archways with groups of tourists huddled within. From afar it looked as though they were whispering to themselves but upon further inspection we found that the archways worked as a whispering wall, whereby you could talk quietly into one corner and the person in the adjacent corner can hear you perfectly.
Christie having a ‘whisper’
As the morning turned to afternoon and the rumble from our bellies indicated it was about time we found a somewhere for lunch. Bologna is famous for its food markets none more so than Marcato Delle Erbe, within this market we found Banco 32, a fish restaurant where the menu changes daily depending on what the fishermen get their hands on.
We went for strozzapreti with swordfish, cherry tomatoes and Nduja sausage and maccheroncini with muscles, clams, calamari and shrimps.
Two of the best seafood pastas we’ve ever tasted.
Before we left the city we stocked up on the handmade tortellini from the market to try and recreate the famous in brodo back in the van.